Piggy goodness! That’s what we had the other night. *huh? make sure you read to the end
It was our turn to host the dinner group and we knew what the main course would be because it has waiting in our freezer since we picked it up from Fred Depies of Trust Local Foods in February. We had interviewed Fred in January of 2012 about his local foods distribution company. At that time he mentioned he was starting to handle suckling pig for a restaurant client and Curt immediately perked up, asking Fred if he could get in on that action. So, in February Fred brought a 6 pound haunch to the winter market in Green Bay for us.
Flash ahead to June, 2012. Time to put a menu together and to figure out how to prepare the pork. Curt perused many cookbooks and websites but a recipe for fresh suckling ham, not smoked, wasn’t easy to find. He finally jotted down times and temps of similar cuts and decided to go for broke. On to prep. First of all, we had to thaw it out. Our fridge was definitely too small to hold the meat if we wanted to have any other food in there, so the alternative was a cooler filled with iced water. So on the morning of the day before the dinner, in it went, safely encased in the vacuum sealed bag.
Once it was thawed out, the fat cap (a beautiful, white 3/4″ thick layer) was scored and seasoned. Again Curt had to do some research. This time for seasonings, rubs and glazes. He ended up simply using salt and pepper (although he was for a while considering a coffee/molasses glaze).
Then it went on a rack and into a 275 degree oven with 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup water added to the roasting pan. He calculated 6 hours to roast, so young Razor began his culinary journey around 1:00pm. To avoid over-cooking, it roasted until the meat registered 175˚ F on a meat thermometer. During the roasting, Curt basted occasionally with the wine and fat drippings. About 1/2 hour before we were ready to serve, the oven temp was raised to 375˚ to brown the meat and crisp the fat.
The outside was just luscious and Curt couldn’t help stealing a few bites or rather taking the first taste as the right of the Chef. The verdict? Porky greatness had been achieved!
We served the sliced pork with potatoes confit and grilled nectarines in a sweet/sour sauce (recipes for both are from Bluestem: The Cookbook by Colby and Megan Garrelts). We almost forgot to get a shot of the plated pork with all its accompaniments. This was shot quickly between bites. As you can imagine everyone enjoyed themselves.
Sweet and Sour Nectarines (or Peaches)
(from Bluestem: The Cookbook)
2 Tbs grape seed oil
4 firm but ripe nectarines or peaches, halved and pitted
2 small white onions
1 1/2 C bourbon
1 C orange juice
3/4 C sherry vinegar
1/2 C Madiera
1/2 C honey
1 Tbs black pepper, ground
5 cardamom pods, whole
The Sweet and Sour Glaze
Bring the bourbon, orange juice, vinegar, Madiera, honey, pepper and cardamom to a simmer in a large sauce pan over high heat. Lower the heat to medium to maintain a gentle simmer and reduce the sauce until it is thick and syrupy, about 1 hour.
The Nectarines and Onions
Place the peaches, onion slices and scallions, cut side down, in the skillet. Cook them until the peaches and onions caramelize and the scallions have just begun to soften, turning the onions and scallions as needed, about 20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the peaches, onions, scallions, to a plate. Spoon the Sweet/Sour Glaze over the fruit and onions.
(from Bluestem: The Cookbook)
6 medium yukon gold potatoes or 12 fingerlings, halved or quartered depending on size.
2-1/2 C Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbs salt
Heat the potatoes, oil and other ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat until the oil is 180˚ F. (use a deep fry thermometer). Remove the saucepan from the burner and transfer to a 175˚ F oven and continue to cook for 50 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not browned. Remove the pan from the oven and let the potatoes cool in the oil. Up to this point this can be done to a week ahead. If not proceeding immediately, store the potatoes in the refrigerator.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, put the drained potatoes into a medium skillet cut side down and saute until the cut surface is a golden brown.
But what’s with the title? One of our guests told us that her daughter-in-law will not eat anything that has a sweet name, like lamb, duckling, and yes, suckling pig. But, of course, that’s why we call them lamb, veal, or pork – to differentiate the meat from the animal. Anyway, I told my friend to tell her d-in-law (who wasn’t invited in the first place) that she shouldn’t feel bad. He was a dangerous pig, known to his enemies and friends alike as Razor, the Killer Pig. He had to be stopped! We were happy to protect humanity from him.